Prospects of Graduation for Least Developed Countries: What Structural Change?


This chapter analyses the graduation trends and the prospects of graduation for the least developed countries (LDCs), updated before the Mid-Term Review of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA). A major aim of the 2011 IPoA adopted at the Fourth UN Conference on the LDCs is ‘enabling half the number of least developed countries to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020’ (UN, 2011). Several official UN documents have referred to or reiterated this goal. Even though it was considered not fully realistic at the time of the Istanbul Conference, it is evidence of a change in international attitudes towards graduation. During the first decade of the millennium, fear of and resistance to graduation among some graduating countries dominated the picture. Since Istanbul, graduation has been considered less of a threat to the development of the graduating countries and more of a signal that these countries are reaching a new phase of development. Moreover, the General Assembly Resolution on Smooth Transition adopted in December 2012 (and following the Report of an Ad Hoc Working Group of the General Assembly on this topic) has dampened the fear of graduation: several measures are now implemented or considered to make the transition smoother, such as continuing to provide some trade capacity-building after graduation, though the so-called Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).

Drabo, A., and Guillaumont, P. "Prospects of Graduation for Least Developed Countries: What Structural Change?" in Tracking Progress, Accelerating Transformations: Achieving the IPoA by 2020, 2d report of the LDC IV Monitor, June 2016, pp. 30-38.